The Ultra Experience

Here's to the adventures of my life which are usually ultra marathon trail running or fly fishing but may include other trips, experiences, thoughts, opinions, or pretty much whatever I want. As co-founder of Altra Footwear my life and adventures seemingly revolve more around developing and promoting the best footwear in the world...and I love it!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bear 100 DNF

So the Bear 100 was last weekend. I didn't have the race I wanted but the course was beautiful, although poorly marked, and had great crew accessibility. Several people had great races especially Ty Draney and Eric Storheim. Congrats guys! I dropped out at mile 70. If interested you can read my report despite my not finishing this race.


The race started at 6:00 am and by the time we got to the trail 1/2 mile later the entire front group had lost the course. Comical really, and the story for many people in the race. We finally figured it out and up we went. The first 20 miles were great. It quickly began to get light and the pack thinned out. I found myself running with Christian Johnson, Paul Sweeney, and Jon Wheelwright. We had great conversation and I really enjoyed those first 12 miles. After the first aid station we dropped Jon but the three of us continued to run pretty close together all the way to mile 37. It might have been a bit quick but we all felt good and it was nice to run with friends. The colors were incredible as the pictures show but it was much hotter than I expected. Heading into mile 37 I felt a small blister and a few hot spots. Plus I was 30 minutes ahead of my sub-24 pace chart. I decided to take a few minutes to re-hydrate and fix my blisters which I did but unfortunately I lost Christian and Paul.


From miles 37-45 I had my first struggle. JR, my uncles friend decided he wanted to be a part of an ultra and paced me through this section. I had never met him before but we hit it off and it was nice having a pacer. This section sure was hot! We ended up losing the trail for 20-25 minutes going almost a mile off course. Mentally it was a bit demoralizing. Next I ran out of water. Heading into mile 45 aid station I wasn't feeling great. I drank a red bull, lots of water, and a bowl of potato's and salt.


I headed out of the aid station feeling much better and ready for the huge climb up to Tony's Grove. We cranked it out in great time and I felt bad when we passed Paul Sweeney with stomach problems. He toughed it out and went on to finish. I was really getting into a groove and coming down into Tony's Grove mile 52 was the high point of the race for me. The temperature was perfect and I couldn't believe how beautiful Tony's Grove was. I flew into Tony's Grove right on my 24 hr pace schedule feeling great. I passed Christian who was having stomach issues, then after a quick stop, off I went.


The next section was gorgeous as well. I could tell that my adrenaline rush was over but I felt fine and kept motoring along at a solid clip. The long downhill was nice but it started getting really dark. Several times I had to stop in my tracks and look for markings. The last 2 miles into Franklin I could feel myself slowing down. My legs were really weak. I kept plugging along and finally got to Franklin mile 62 feeling not so great. My blisters were fine and stomach felt great. I couldn't figure it out because I was eating really well and I was right on pace.


I took 20 minutes to try and recharge but less than 1 mile after leaving the aid station I shut down. I just couldn't get my legs to move. They were so sluggish and weak. I was shocked at how quickly it hit me. Phil Lowry, whom I had seen several times after starting an hour early, passed me looking good. I tried to follow him but I was dead. After almost an hour of slow struggling I was starting to get really worried. Several times I had to sit down and recuperate. Whenever I did I felt really out of breathe and I started to recognize how hard my heart was beating. This was a bad thing because I have a history of heart problems. This really started to get me worried. Christian had taken care of his issues and he passed me looking great. He asked how I was doing and I voiced my concern with the request to send my wife up the trail to come and help me out. After another hour of walking through the dark mountains alone, I was for the first time in my life scared in the mountains. My hands were starting to go to sleep becoming tingly, I felt increasingly out of breathe, my legs were pure mush, and I had to stop every 10 minutes to rest. I didn't get the most accurate reading but according to my calculations my heart seemed to be near 200 beats per minute. I had been walking slowly for 6 miles and after a rest it was still near 200 beats per minute. Scary being in the middle of nowhere with heart problems. Finally I saw a light coming towards me and heard my name called. It was Dave Hunt of all people! I was on the verge of tears as he came up and gave me a big hug. I was so relieved! Soon my father came up the trail. We walked the last mile down to Logan River mile 70 together. We decided that I needed to lay down. I laid down on a cot the volunteers had and then seemed to really freak out. I could really feel my heart now and it was going crazy. Super fast, super hard, and irregular. It was an emotional experience with my wife when we decided that I shouldn't go on. With a history of heart problems, none of which had caused problems since I was 18 years old, and with 30 miles to go, we decided that I would drop out. It's hard to say, but at that rate, how long would it be until I had a heart attack? Especially if I had gotten lost again in the dark like so many others? 30 miles was a bit too far to take that chance.

The cause is hard to distinguish, but here goes: I got a great job offer on Tuesday. Zanna and I would be/will be moving to Ogden in 3 weeks. 1- I hadn't slept for more than 3 hrs per night since that day. 2- I was having some serious anxiety with these big changes coming up in my life which runs in my family. 3- Since mile 45 I had taken a huge amount of caffeine. Red Bull=80mgs , then 35mgs of GU about every 45 minutes afterwards. This means 400 mgs of caffeine in 7 hours. I don't take caffeine very often. So this was probably way too much. 4- I have only run over 62 miles once in my life....it's a long way, I'm young and inexperienced. 5- I have a history of heart problems.

It sucked especially since I was on pace, had no blisters, and was eating well with no stomach problems. I had trained really hard for this event so it was hard to quite early. I had a goal of never dropping out of an ultra and it was a really hard decision. Let's just say that I'm finally going to break down and buy a heart rate monitor. During the next 6 months I'm going to monitor my heart to see how and when problems occur. Looking back on the experience I never would have noticed an increase in my heart rate unless I had stopped. But with my heart going that fast it was taking up the blood flow and oxygen flow. This would increase my respiratory rate and keep the precious blood and oxygen from my extremities. Hence my legs would go to mush and my hands would go to sleep. Who knows when my heart started racing? It wasn't until it's effects became manifest through my legs and respiratory rate that I noticed it. So anyway that was my experience at the Bear 100. Congrats to those who finished despite the hardships of a hundred miles and the poorly marked course. Thanks to Greg Norrander for his always awesome pictures. Happy off-season everyone!

8 comments:

Davy said...

Sorry you had such a rough time in the evening. I'm sure you will get things figured out. You made the right decision. Thanks for letting me steal your pacer at Beaver Lodge. I hope he had a little fun on my death march to the finish.

BASICS Sports Medicine said...

When you move to Ogden look me up for some trail running!

Joel Hatch
basicsogden@gmail.com

Kristen said...

Well, since I'm your sister and not one of your fellow runners,let me just say that I think it's pretty dang awesome to run a marathon, so 70 miles, well I guess you could say I think that's pretty dang, dang, dang awesome! Love ya!

jon said...

It was great sharing the trail with you for little while. I'm sorry about the unforeseen issues. I came through Logan River and Dave Hunt told me your story. I'm sure you'll figure things out and smoke it next year. I'm hoping to figure out my stomach in the next year, I couldn't hold anything down from 25-50. Any suggestions? Best wishes with the move, etc.

belle said...

70 miles is nothing to be ashamed of. Next time your out, I'll pace you. Getting scared alone in the dark could have been half of the racing heart. Let me know next time and I'll make sure you don't have to go in alone. Congrats on a great run!

Roxanne said...

I'm proud of you for getting that far and feel like you and Zanna made the right decision. Like you said, you are young and you have plenty of time to accomplish that. I talked to Zanna about you guys moving-congrats on the job. I'll be up in Utah visiting next week so I'm hoping I get to see you guys!!!

lauren said...

WOW. brian has a blog.

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